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tv   Countdown With Keith Olbermann  MSNBC  December 22, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EST

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cruise, you get addicted and you want to see the world. even though you don't have a home. >> michael, that's going to have to be the last word on oprah and bill maher. thank you. >> thafrmgs you. that's "the last word" from los angeles. you can follow us on our web page on once you are the, you can find all you need to donate to the k.i.n.d. fund. "countdown" is up next. which of these stories will you be talking >> no longer will tens of thousands of americans in uniform be asked to live a lie or look over their shoulder in order to serve the country that they love. >> don't ask, don't tell, the repeal is law. and it's not just dadt. >> the resolution of ratification is agreed.
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>> s.t.a.r.t. is a go. >> our christmas miracle has arrived. >> and the 9/11 bill goes through with unanimous consent but not without concessions. >> this is $4.3 billion better than nothing. >> not without the republicans trying to say they were for it before and after they were against it. >> there was never any doubt about supporting the first responders. >> the 111th congress, the first two years of the obama administration, red states pick up seats in congress, blue states lose them. but those seats may not come with republican voters. and banks accused of sinking to new lows in the foreclosure mess, locking out homeowners before foreclosures are complete and throwing away their stuff. all the news and commentary now on "countdown." >> what are you going to do, foreclose on them? good evening from new york. this is wednesday, december
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22nd, 685 days until the 2012 presidential election. and today this was change you could believe in. our fifth story tonight, president barack obama, the nation's first black commander in chief with the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, lifted a burden of suspicion and discrimination from secretly gay service members and for all gay americans now and in the future threw open the doors of america's armed forces. the repeal will not take effect until 60 days after the president and the pentagon certify their implementation process which the president told the advocate newspaper will be a matter of months not years. though he was joined on stage by gay and lesbian veteran and service members, one of whom joins us presently, mr. obama took pains to say that gay soldiers have fought for america since before there was a military. >> there were gay soldiers who consecrated the ground at gettysburg, who manned the trenches along the western
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front, who stormed the beaches of iwo jima. their names are etched into the walls of our memorials, their headstones dot the grounds at arlington. >> in fact, it was under general george washington on march 10, 1778 that lieutenant ensley was tried by a court-martial for sodomy. a gay veteran of the korean war joins us presently. mr. obama related the story of one who served in world war ii. >> during a firefight, a private named lloyd corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. and dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. but one soldier, a friend,
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turned back and, with shells landing around him amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring private corwin to safer ground. and for the rest of his years, lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named andy lee, with saving his life. knowing he would never have made it out alone. it was a full four decades after the war when the two friends reunited in their golden years that lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend andy, was gay. he had no idea.
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and he didn't much care. lloyd knew what mattered. he knew what had kept him alive, what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. it was his friend. and lloyd's son is with us today. and he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender or by religion or by creed. what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of europe is the reason that we are here today. that's the reason we are here today. >> the president encouraged gay americans to enlist, encouraged the 14,000 plus discharged under don't ask, don't tell to return and spoke specifically to the current generation of gay
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service members. the last generation to serve in fear. >> as the first generation to serve openly in our armed forces, you will stand for all those who came before you, and you will serve as role models to all who come after. and i know that you will fulfill this responsibility with integrity and honor just as you have every other mission with which you've been charged. and you need to look no further than the servicemen and women in this room, distinguished officers like former navy commander, zoe dunning. marines, marines like eric alva,
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one of the first to be injured in iraq. leaders like captain jonathan hopkins, who led a platoon in to northern iraq during the initial invasion quelling an ethnic riot, earning a bronze star with valor. he was -- he was discharged only to receive e-mails and letters from his soldiers saying, they'd known he was gay all along. and thought that he was the best commander they ever had. >> the president said repealing don't ask, don't tell was an act of promises, his promise to those who serve and the promise of the nation they serve. >> a young woman in uniform was shaking my hand and other people
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were grabbing and taking pictures, and she pulled me into a hug and she whispered in my ear, get don't ask, don't tell done. and i said to her, i promise you i will. for we are not a nation that says don't ask, don't tell. we are a nation that says out of many we are one. we are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. we are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. those are the ideals that generations have fought for, those are the ideals that we uphold today, and now it is my honor to sign in bill into law. >> with us tonight on this historic occasion, our historian, manning marable, director for the center for
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contemporary black history at columbia. and also fresh from the signing ceremony today the only person to serve openly after winning her court battle after don't ask, don't tell, now retired u.s. navy commander zoe dunning and garrison phillips who served his country in the closet in the korean war. he's now a blogger for thank you all for joining us tonight. i really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> mr. phillips, i'd like to start with you. having gone through the experience in korea of serving in the u.s. armed forces and not being able to be honest about who you were with the men you served with, what was going through your mind today as you watched the bill signing? >> first, almost disbelief. and, of course, great joy. as if somebody had just taken a big load off of my shoulders. to finally be able to be open
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about serving my country, to stop lying, which is against every principle as children we're taught by our parents, by teachers, by schools. yet gays and lesbians do this all the time. and it ain't easy. and this was -- it was just -- it was wonderful. >> commander dunning, you were in the room today and you got to experience that moment. what was it like in that room? i know that usually the white house does the signings in the oval office or a small room in the white house, but it looked like they had the biggest auditorium they could find in washington today. >> well, the energy was electric, for sure. there were hundreds of people there, many of them longtime advocates for repeal. many service members in the audience, many staffers who served on the senate and congressional offices that helped push this through. and so it was like a victory party in many ways. and the energy was absolutely
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wonderful, and the president seemed relaxed, joyous and proud. >> professor, i want to get a sense of you of the sort of significance of this in the long sweep of social progress in this country. people have called this one of the most significance pieces of civil rights legislation in decades. it is hard to figure out the analogy, the civil rights struggle against segregation, so iconic, sometimes those analogies can seem very fraught, but this seems like a place where it might be warranted. what do you think? >> this is a day that is not unlike the momentous occasions where we mark the march on washington in august 1963 or the signing of the voting rights act of 1965 because we have broken yet another barrier that restricts the boundaries of democracy. and that's why there was such joyous celebration that occurred in washington, d.c., and all over the country because this step was long overdue.
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>> one of the things that was interesting, just to say with this for one second, there was an interesting dynamic between the white house and groups that were advocating on this. advocates were not quiet, they were noisy, chaining themselves to the fence and people felt like maybe the white house was slow walking this. and in the end they both seem sort of borne out. i wonder in historical context is that the thing you generally see from the successful movements? >> today this reminded me of the sacrifices of a social rights icon named byron ruston. he organized the beginnings of what became known as the journeys of reconciliation, that later became the freedom riots in the early 1960s. he was the architect with martin luther king jr. organizing the bus boycott in montgomery,
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alabama, in 1955, '56, then organized the civil rights march, the march on washington in august '63. byron ruston was a leader of the civil rights struggle but he was also gay. at the end of his life ruston realized and understood that the message of the civil rights movement which was to abolish all forms of stigmatization and exclusion also extended to our brothers and sisters who were lesbians and gay. >> mr. phillips, this is part of a long journey. i think you had been involved in a battle, in a political fight in the 1970s and '80s around marching in an american legion parade even before don't ask, don't tell was on the table? >> yes, that's correct. >> what had happened in that? >> well, every year we faced opposition because some of the other soldiers, particularly officers, would say, why do you have to march behind a gay banner?
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it's okay to be gay, but we don't want you to advertise it. they say this is part of who we are and we're proud of it. and even one year a man dashed out from the crowd and slashed the gay banner. the police arrested him right away. i don't know what happened to him. but for people to understand that just to be who you are is part of your life, and most people can do that openly. and gays and lesbians up till now have not been able to do that. >> commander dunning, you're one of the few people, perhaps the only person, who has been able to do that. a successful challenge to your discharge under don't ask, don't tell led to that. you are in a unique position to tell us what the next six months or the next year or two as this policy is implemented is going to look like based on your experience being a woman in the armed forces. >> that's a great point. my experience serving as an open
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lesbian in the military can kind of show how it can be successful. and if anyone can implement change, the military can. we've seen demonstrated from the highest leadership from the commander in chief, from the defense secretary, from the chairman of the joint chiefs, edward mullen. he gets it. this is a matter of the integrity of the individual and the integrity of the institution. when i watched that, it brought tears to my eyes because to see the most senior military officer get it. not theoretically in his head but get it in his heart where he seemed to understand what this is all about. so i do have faith in the military leadership that they are going to be able to implement this change successfully. it comes from top down, messaging, leadership and reinforcement. >> you actually experienced it, lived it day-to-day. i'm wondering how much social resistance you think there will be at the peer level or whether
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the structure of the military is sort of equipped to be able to kind of overcome that? >> well, we'll see what happens. i'm sure there may be isolated incidents of disturbances or folks that may not be open to this idea of serving alongside a gay or lesbian that they're aware of. because today everyone is serving alongside a gay or lesbian pretty much. they now will have the opportunity to know it for sure. my experience shows that there's an opportunity to educate. as the pentagon study showed, those who reported actually having served alongside somebody they knew to be gay or lesbian or suspected gay or lesbian, 92% of them said it was not a problem at all and that their units were able to perform admirably and successfully with no incidents. >> that's the most striking figure in that report, in some ways a game changer. mr. phillips, i'll give you the last word. you've watched the politics of this over a long period of time. i wonder if you ever really
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thought that you would see the day that we're seeing today. >> i didn't think it would happen in my life time, no. >> oh. >> i think we'll have some difficulties, some things to overcome, but it will be -- it will make us stronger just like the integration that president truman did of black forces into the armed services. it will be a positive, a positive thing that happens. >> professor manning marable, commander zoe dunning and mr. phillips. >> thank you. today's signing just one of many successes for this president and this congress in just two short years. ♪
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the successes, both legislative and politically in just two, short years. president's wins and losses. and the congressman whose fight for the 9/11 health bill helped make it a reality.
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it would have been considered monumental had it been passed over weeks or months. but this president and this congress defied the odds. just minutes after he signed an appeal of don't ask, don't tell, congress ratifies the s.t.a.r.t. arms treaty followed by legislation for the 9/11 first responders. the president then headed off to hawaii for the holidays,
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nonetheless a hard-earned victory lap. >> a lot of folks in this country predicted that after the midterm elections, washington would be headed for more partisanship and more gridlock. and instead, this has been a season of progress for the american people. >> today, a cap to the season of progress, s.t.a.r.t. ratified with the help of 13 republicans. the 9/11 first responders bill followed with unanimous consent. more on that later in the hour. >> so one thing i hope people have seen during this lame duck, i am persistent. i am persistent. you know, if i believe in something strongly, i stay on it. >> mr. obama not surprisingly scoring high marks in the latest cnn poll. 59% approve of his efforts to work across the aisle. of course, people always approve that. only 28% believe republicans were trying to work with the president.
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nevertheless, mr. obama was able to score crucial republican support for key legislation, a feat not to be overlooked. >> i think it's fair to say that this has been the most productive post-election period we've had in decades. it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we've had in generations. >> while the past two years may have seemed like a never-ending gop obstructionist dead zone while wars continue to rage over continents with little plan for withdraw and when congress remains infected with an improper dependence on big money, this probably has been the most productive congress since the days of the great society in the 1960s. 32 million americans got health insurance, will get it soon, a sweeping attempt to rein in wall street's abuses, hate crime legislation, credit card reform, student loan reform, general motors brought back from the dead. a recovery act that saved the country from abject economic armageddon, creating and saving
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jobs across the 50 straights. it also included billions for anti-poverty programs, the largest investment in clean energy on the record and tax cuts for working families. congress brought us the most expansive food safety bill since the 1930s and confirmed two female supreme court justices including the first hispanic to serve. that's just a list of partial accomplishments. how do the president's opponents feel about all this? ask republican jeff sessions. his opinion, "i think it was a disaster." time now to call on "washington post" columnist and senior fellow at the brookings institution e.j. dionne. >> happy holidays. >> here's my big question. why did this all happen in this lame duck congress? i asked howard fineman this the other night. i'll still trying to work
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towards a good, explanatory theoretical model that can tell me why these outcomes were produced in such rapid succession. >> the theoretical model of a duck. first thing ha happened is that harry reid and nancy pelosi made a decision, which is they were going to use their majority that expires, that full democratic control expires january 3rd. a lot of people said, oh, you can't get much done, we lost the election. let's do housekeeping and go home. they said no. it's like having one of those gift cards that expires in 12 months and you better use it. that was the first decision. on the s.t.a.r.t. treaty, president obama had a deep commitment to this. he really reached outside the administration, got all those who were republican secretaries of state to support it. they had a base to work with. on the tax cut, in all honesty, it is not really hard for congress to give away $858 billion. tax cuts for the rich, a little for democratic priorities. then you had two other things. you had the don't ask, don't
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tell, where i think what's really important is that's become a popular position. >> yes. >> and there were a lot of moderate republicans who realized that their moderate credentials wouldn't be any good if they opposed it. then finally they were shamed into -- the republicans were shamed into ending their obstruction of the help for the 9/11 responders. and fox news -- hate to say that on this network -- probably played a role along with jon stewart. >> not to say shep smith. >> i don't think there is one. >> i think you're right. a lot of things got sort of passed at different times due to different contingencies. but to step back as we look at these two years, what is your sense? i have my own kind of feelings about what are successes and what are failures. how would you characterize in two years of both the obama administration and the democratic congress, which was pretty unprecedented? >> it was an enormous amount of achievement. they came in.
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they could have played it safer. no, we're not going to get this shot again. and we're going to take some chances. where i would fault them is they did not, and the president did not make a consistent case for why he wanted to move the country in a certain direction. they never adequately sold the health care bill. they never explained to people why the stimulus was so important. he's got to get much better at making a case. he's really good at dealing with legislation and getting it through. they've got to spend two years explaining where they want to move the country now. >> i think the real issue here is i think these two lenses i think for viewing what's going on. it seems to me that this congress and this president on domestic policy have done about as well as you can possibly do within the system as currently constituted, but the system itself seems badly, badly broken and corrupt to me. >> if i could abolish the senate, i would. not only that you have now the permanent filibuster, but it is a deeply unrepresented body when
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you look at the biggest state and smallest state, a ratio of 68-1. there's something fundamentally wrong. plus the money situation that you mentioned in your setup piece. but if you keep pushing and you keep pushing and you actually persuade people you can still get things done even within the framework of this very messed-up system, i hope they get some reform in the next time around. i'd still love them to pass the disclose act, but there doesn't seem to be any chance of that. >> the fair elections act from your lips to barack obama's ears. e.j. dionne, thank you. >> great to be with you. something that seems like it should have been first. the 9/11 health bill, it passes, but not without a $2 billion cut and the same refrain of we haven't had enough time with it. ♪ [ male announcer ] they've been tested, built and driven like no other.
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the 9/11 first responders bill finally makes it through the senate, next. first, time for the sanity break. a happy 67th birthday to paul wolfowitz, which i mention for only one reason. so we have occasion to show the video of him licking his comb. that's good stuff. let's play "oddball." we begin with what will be -- ♪ -- always forget that cue. we begin with robot masters. it opened in china where the waitstaff is composed of robots. using sensors to avoid obstacles
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they move from a tray to a bike riding bus boy. they can deliver food but still fail to comprehend human emotions. the restaurant has 20 tables. i still wouldn't send a dish back. might end up with motor oil in your moo goo gai pan. we move on to sports where the uconn lady huskies won. after game coach auriemma received a congratulatory call from president obama. >> no, you're not interrupting anything. you're taking -- you know, if i was calling you when you had all those reporters in front of you, you'd be dying to take my phone call, right? >> either take the call or get another former president to take the questions. finally we go to spokane, washington, where old man winter
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has struck yet again. once again we follow the plight of some helpless drivers as they struggle against gravity and snow, car after car comes flying down the hill. only being stopped by another car. one truck driver tries in vain to floor it and go back up the hill. not so good. none of the drivers in the clip were hurt. and the organizers of the local demolition derby just get a new obstacle for their show. senator chuck schumer thought when he got up this morning the 9/11 health bill was a lost cause. it wasn't. but i knew that i was going to need a day job. we actually have a lot of scientists that play music. the creativity, the innovation, there's definitely a tie there. one thing our scientists are working on is carbon capture and storage, which could prevent co2 from entering the atmosphere. we've just built a new plant to demonstrate how we can safely freeze out the co2 from natural gas. it looks like snow.
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it really says something about the obstruction in the 111th congress that a last-second compromise agreement to give aid to 9/11 first responders is being characterized as a christmas miracle. in our third story, 9/11 responders don't care what you call it because they're finally getting the support the federal government owes them.
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yesterday we told you about tom coburn leading the campaign of the 9/11 health and compensation act. the senator complained the bill wasn't funded properly. he also complained there were no senate hearings to discuss the bill even though an exclusive "countdown" investigation discovered via the google there was a hearing in the committee last summer. senator coburn is on that committee. but was absent that day. until today, coburn's obstruction on behalf of republicans was in stark contrast to the tidal wave of bipartisan support for the bill outside of congress. the unlikely coalition of rudy giuliani, jon stewart and shepard smith was joined yesterday by the oklahoma city firefighters who released a statement urging their senator to quit playing politics. quoting the release, the oklahoma firefighters urge our two senators to stand tall with america's first responders. instead of employing procedural
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tactics of delay, vote to give the heroes of 9/11 the protection and benefits they've earned. this morning in coburn's office, the bill's co-sponsors and harry reid made a last-ditch appeal for compromise. to chuck schumer's surprise, he found a willing partner. >> the minute, as i said, that senator coburn listed his first concern as we saw that he was being reasonably, we knew that we had gotten it done. all the changes that were made does not betray a single worker who got ill from rushing to the towers. >> according to the agreement, the compensation fund will be kept open for five years instead of ten. the dollar amount will shrink to $4.2 billion. when the compromise bill finally made it to the floor of the senate it was passed with unanimous consent. a statement, every american recognizes the heroism of 9/11 first responders, but it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generations of opportunity. in fact, no one was ever getting robbed here.
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the bill was fully funded before and after coburn got involved. of course, the senate changes required another vote in the house where the bill was again passed, this time with 168 members not voting. among those splitting early for christmas vacation, republican speaker-elect john boehner. here's hoping he enjoys his christmas as much as this 9/11 responder. >> we've gone eight christmases without federal assistance. this christmas, while you might not get a check by friday morning, we'll open a box that says the government helped you, you can have rest and peace of mind knowing that help is on its way in 2011. this christmas will be the best christmas that i've ever known. >> joining me now is one of the champions of this bill in the house of representative, anthony wiener of new york. i'm tempted to make a "this congressman will be interviewed" joke, but i'm getting you get a lot of this.
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>> i'm relieved. there was a lot of cynicism throughout this process. it took nine years for really crummy reasons. first we had the bush administration that refused to do anything to help these people, then the last two years about every obstacle was thrown in the way. all that being said, it is remarkable we got this done. because the very idea that senator coburn can stop this program in its tracks shows you the dysfunction of the senate. but this got done. chuck schumer and that guy john feal, who brought busloads of people down, again and again, 20-some-odd hearings. it doesn't change the fact that all around our city, all around the country are people with that distinctive hacking cough because they're dying slowly by degrees. >> i want to get your take on the final package that was approved. a few things that changed from the original bill you championed in the house. the time horizon, a smaller
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amount. a cap on lawyer's fees and some additional regulations to make sure there wasn't double dipping in the words of senator coburn. >> the biggest change was the one that took a ten-year program and made it a five-year program. we're going to start almost immediately making sure that it gets expanded. the bottom line is this. if someone discovers six years from now that their heroism is leading them to have these problems, we should take care of them. the irony is when we passed the victims compensation fund to take care of the families of those lost on september 11th, if any of us knew that people would be steadily dying by degrees with the after-effects of this, we would have included it. so the only question is how are we going to deal with people steadily getting sick? it doesn't deny anyone who has these problems today. hopefully in years four, five and six and seven, we're going to stop seeing people who are coming down with these symptoms. but unfortunately, the tragic truth is this is the worst type
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of entitlement program in that the group is getting smaller and smaller every day because people are getting sick and dying. this is not a moment too soon. a lot of people deserve credit. >> i'm always happy to take away lessons of progress. >> not your m.o., but i'll go with it. >> when you have a successful battle, you want to know what worked. a number of things here. but one was the voices of the people who were speaking out on behalf of this. >> right. >> we had one on the ho show last night. how important do you think that was to the ultimate passage of this? >> sometimes legislation happens because of really hard work and elbow grease and a brilliant idea of members of congress or in the legislature. more often than not it happens just because of unstoppable pressure comes from without. jon stewart, rachel maddow, the bus loads of people from the feel-good foundation. that guy john feal, coming down. it was hard for my colleagues to look at a markup of people who
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were literally their embodiment of this problem. and at the end, people like chuck schumer and kristin gillibrand and harry reid said we're not going to leave town until we get this done. people like senator coburn said, you know what, if my objective was to stall this till it died, to the credit of nancy pelosi and steny hoyer, we stayed in session with nothing to do than wait for the senate to act. usually that's a fool's errand. turned out to be just right this time. >> anthony wiener, a fellow product of the outer boroughs, thanks a lot. texas and florida win seats, ohio and new york lose. but those red states may be getting those seats through blue voters. a new source of woe in the housing crisis. banks accused of breaking into homes. and when rachel joins you at the top of the hour, live from the 92nd street y, her guest will be "new york times" paul krugman. can't imagine the crowd there will be that into that.
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what happens when republican-led states pick up congressional districts but the population that gave it to them fall into the dems' column. bank of america faces another lawsuit, this time from a woman who says they authorized with arthritis pain... and a choice. take tylenol now, and maybe up to 8 in a day. or...choose aleve and 2 pills for a day free of pain. enjoy the flight.
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yesterday the census result of the 2010 head count. giving us a preview of how next year's congressional
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redistricting battles might play out. our number two story tonight, at first glance, this year's seat shuffle appears to be a clear-cut win for the republicans. but it's not so simple as red and blue. states that voted for obama in the 2008 election incurred a net loss of six seats in congress. although the mccain camp picked up an additional six, texas emerged as the big victor this decade adding four to their congressional delegation, which brings their total to 36. florida is now up two more seats in the house, and new york and ohio are each down two. arizona, georgia, nevada, south carolina, utah and washington state gained one seat apiece while illinois, iowa, louisiana, massachusetts, michigan, missouri, new jersey and pennsylvania lost one. on the face of things, it appears that republicans have a distinct advantage but only in the short term. the relatively fresh memory of tom delay's redistricting
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shenanigans in texas, its blatant violation of the voting rights act and the cascading lawsuits, lawmakers are wary of being too aggressive in their redistricting agendas. len westmoreland in charge of redistricting for the republican national committee said when we push for an overreach, it can backfire. the overreach is a danger that sometimes states with complete control try to do. we're going to discourage any kind of overreach. furthermore, while more people are living in so-called red states, the people moving there tend to vote for democrats. although we won't know for sure until february when the sense ow bureau releases more information about each district. early figures predict large increases in minorities and college graduates, two groups that overwhelmingly went for
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obama in the 2008 elections. in texas an estimated 85% of the added population is black or hispanic. furthermore, the new residents have moved toward areas that are already solidly blue. the big cities and the heavily hispanic rio grande valley. despite gop control of every statewide office and both state legislative houses will most likely not lose any democratic seats in congress. as for the big question, what does all this mean for the electoral college and the 2012 presidential elections? it's unclear. what we do know is a whole lot can change in two years. a foreclosure lawsuit over not just wrongfully losing a house, but everything in it. your finger in the middle of the spoons. >> got it. >> bang 'er back and forth. there you go. yeah. >> yeah, this is going really great. oh, this is actually not bad. >> how's that, eh? >> holy...spoons. >> introducing cisco umi. be together in high def on your tv. exclusively at best buy's magnolia stores.
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christmastime is always a good occasion to revisit the dr. seuss classic "how the grinch stole christmas." our number one story tonight, a real life version of the tale. you'll remember the illustrated fable that the grinch, out of
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petty jealousy and equipped with a heart two sizes too small, decides to run a reverse santa claus on the whos down in whoville. the very first time it aired on cbs, it was sponsored by the foundation for full service banks. in a version of the tale reported in today's "new york times," the role of grinch is played by -- wait for it -- a bank. in a lawsuit filed in california homeowner mimi ash says that bank of america not only wrongly foreclosed on her home, they tossed out everything in the place. all of her possessions were gone, reported the "times," furniture, her son's ski medals, winter clothes and family photos and a wooden box inscribed with the words "together forever" that contained the ashes of her late husband robert. crazy as it sounds, ash's story is not an isolated incident. across the country homeowners are discovering the banks
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records of who owns what mortgages are either shot through with errors or in many cases simply nonexistent. as we speak, thousands of years of the legal basis of property rights are being undermined and nobody in washington seems to care. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> i just want to say first we asked bank of america for a comment on this story. they responded with, quote, bank of america generally does not comment on pending litigation. we take the allegations made by ms. ash very seriously and are thoroughly researching her claims. mr. phillips, i want to ask you this because i think that the story is so remarkable and outrageous but you can read it and say to yourself, well, there's a lot of foreclosures in this country and crazy stuff happens, so is this an isolated incident? >> absolutely not. we've been handling these cases
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since february of this year. we must get between two and ten inquiries a week of illegal lockouts and trashouts primarily in michigan, arizona, california and florida. and it's a rampant problem cutting the corners and undermining the law throughout the country and breaking into homes and disposing of possessions. >> what's the root of the problem here? i think the banks will tell you it's a paperwork problem. but is that the problem? if you're getting that many complaints and i'm sure lawyers around the country probably are, is there something deeper going on? >> the common denominator is the loan servicers. there's no more brick and mortar banks any more. the mortgage industry is run by the loan servicers. they're a dysfunctional mess at this point all across the country. the only rule they seem to be following is foreclose first and ask questions later. they see homeowners as the collateral damage of this break mortgage meltdown.
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>> i want to ask you what you want to see policymakers at the state and federal level do. what do we need to see legislatively to rein in this monstrous problem? >> well, first we've seen this issue before. a booming industry with no internal checks and balances. well, it's the same industry that got us into this mess and it's going on again. we need an a to z shakedown of the loan servicing industries. we see attorney generals in nevada and arizona have stepped up and filed cases last week against bank of america and its servicing entity challenging some of the services practices. so there needs to be the spotlight shined on these servicers. >> attorney car lin phillips, thank you for your time tonight. have a good holiday. >> thank you. same to you. >> we'll end where we began tonight, one of the most tireless advocates of the repeal of don't ask, don't tell is lieutenant dan choi whose discharged under don't ask, don't tell.
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back in july at the net roots nation conference in las vegas, he gave hiss westpoint graduation ring to senate majority leader reid. >> this morning dan choi gave me this to give to you. that's his west point ring. he says it doesn't mean to him any more. >> an accountability moment came on saturday with the passage of the bill and was signed into law today. on capitol hill senator reid made good on his promise. >> it's a beautiful ring. you remember that? did you ever think you would get it back? >> i didn't know. >> lieutenant dan choi is not done for fighting for equal rights for all americans. on his twitter, the next time i